Along Broad Run, the sounds of rhythmic drums mingled with the white noise of Interstate 66, just a few hundred yards from Oakrum Baptist Church.
The simple stucco church was the cultural center of the post-Civil War community known as Thoroughfare and is one of its last reminders.
Earlier this month, Victoria Price, with her long silvery hair pulled back under a floppy hat, joined more than 75 other activists and representatives from Prince William County to march from the church to another encore, a field potter’s house where former Thoroughfare residents are buried.
Price was among many Thoroughfare descendants who were dismayed that this simple piece of land his family had created was about to be bulldozed before the county bought it this month to avoid damaging it. new desecration.
âFrank Fletcher was my mother’s grandfather and he built almost every house in Thoroughfare,â Price said, as the group prepared for the mile-long walk to the cemetery. âHe created the potter’s field for anyone who cannot afford to be buried. So, I have ancestors in these plots: Amerindians; mixed people; some who were freed slaves; some who have always been free people.
On December 7, the County Board of Supervisors approved a $ 300,000 deal to purchase 2 acres along the John Marshall Freeway, at the behest of the Coalition to Save the Historic Road. The group’s activism also spurred a county initiative to conduct archaeological studies of the area and tell the story of historic black settlements.
âA lot of things have been forgotten in the history books – tremendously,â Price said. “So I am here to honor the ancestors and thank the county watchdog who bought back the land that would have been completely destroyed.”
Andrea Bailey, Prince William County’s Potomac District Supervisor, said it was about more than the story of the county to her – it’s about reclamation.
âMy great-grandfather was a sharecropper. So I understand the importance of preserving history. Seeing this come to fruition for the community that loves living here is more than important. We all need to understand this community, âBailey said. âYou never know where you are going if you don’t preserve your history. “
The crowd included members of Prince William County NAACP and Unity in the Community. There was even a national presence of the regional director of the American Indian Movement. Peter Landeros, a Pascua Yaqui Indian from Arizona, represents Virginia, Washington and Maryland. He said it is not acceptable to build on top of cemeteries no matter who is in the ground.
âThe most important thing here is that there are Native American graves, and there is a federal law that says they are supposed to stop immediately and that was ignored,â Landeros said. âThey did it to us for years and years and years. They have desecrated our cemeteries since the day they arrived here. No more.”
Frank Washington of the Thoroughfare Coalition said the community has always relied on faith, love and family.
âThis is the legacy you want Thoroughfare to always keep: a place of love, faith and to move forward with it at heart, no matter what we are faced with,â Washington told the gathering. “Although we encountered a lot of animosity from time to time, we retained our sense of morals and values.”
Sheila Hansen, a member of the Shawnee Ancestry Coalition, noted that the group marched with wreaths to honor a few World War I veterans, including Moses Johnson, who was buried in the Potter’s Field.
âThese World War I veterans fought for this country and served this country when this country did not serve them,â said Hansen. “But we are going to honor them and thank them for their service and thank them for their life and all of those ancestors who rest here in Thoroughfare.”
Bailey told InsideNoVa the goal is to “ensure that we honor and respect those who have continued, as well as the church and community that reside here.” This is what we do to make sure we are one community.